Massive thanks to Chrissy again for unleashing her much-needed beta skills on this, and also to OrdinaryVamp and Landdownunder for their wonderfully helpful feedback.
Suggested Listening:'Kiss the Cook' by That Handsome Devil
Door Number Two, Please
Shockingly enough Bella doesn't show up for AP Bio, but still manages to show up for her ride home.
"You know," I say causally as I approach my car, "the school is gonna call Esme and Carlisle eventually."
"And?" Bella replies, nonplussed.
Her pink lips distract me.
Fuck, what was I saying?
"And," I continue, leaning on the car and shaking my head at myself, "you're gonna be in the shit when they find out you're not attending."
"Like you give a crap." She scoffs.
"Fair enough," I agree, chancing another glance toward her over the roof of the car, "but when you eventually get caught it'll create tension between you and them, which will ultimately be transferred to Alice, Emmett, and me. So," I sigh, "just show up for class. What else do you have to do? Really?"
"Nothing," she replies, a little to quickly for my liking.
"Oh, really?" I raise an eyebrow.
We get in the car and buckle our seat belts, beginning yet another journey in silence.
"I thought you said 'Don't talk to me anymore'," Bella attempts to mock in my own voice after a few minutes.
"Yeah, about that… we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I was just tense before," I lie.
"Yeah, me too. I appreciate your apology."
"I wasn't apologizing."
"I know." She laughs, but turns to look out the window, shutting me out again.
~ X ~
"Yuuumm!" Jessica moans over the plate of food mom places in front of her.
I can't help but notice Bella rolls her eyes a split second after I do.
How lovely of mom to assign Bella's seat opposite mine. I have no doubts about this being a strategic move on her part, just for the record. I wish she'd let this bonding bullshit drop. I honestly don't see the point with college approaching.
When I don't immediately tuck into dinner like everyone else, mom tries to discretely prompt me as usual, "Edward, dear, how are the green beans?"
"I'm sure they're delicious, mom," I answer benignly and pick up my knife and fork, purely to humor her.
"So," mom begins, placing her utensils down before taking a large gulp of her red wine, "how was school today, kids?"
Jessica and Alice immediately leap at the opportunity to relay the latest of Forks' High drama. Their enthusiastic tones quickly dull to a drone in my mind.
Bella remains silent as usual.
I glance across at her a few times and notice she's eating at almost the same pace as Emmett. That's really quite the achievement.
"...and that poor Mr. Call? Such a shame." The tail end of their conversation filters through my consciousness.
"What was that?" I ask, turning my attention back to them.
"That young man down at the reservation who was killed, dear," mom repeats.
"I'd hardly call him 'young', mom, but okay. Is there any more news on that case?" I ask, looking at Jess.
"Nope. They're waiting for the prints and DNA stuff to come back. Daddy thinks they're probably gonna catch him from that, but it'll take a couple weeks to get the results."
"It'll take longer than that," I say to no one in particular.
Federal labs are seriously backed up right now and most states are too strapped to fund their own. I mean, Arizona alone threw away thousands of samples from sexual assault kits last year just because they couldn't afford to store them, let alone process them.
This guy is gonna be running for president of Mexico by the time they catch him.
"Didn't your father have friends down at the reservation, Bella? Did you know Mr. Call?" Mom asks between bites.
Bella half-chokes on her own mouthful.
"I hear chewing helps." I smirk across at her.
"Thank you," Bella clears her throat and takes a drink of water; her hand placed over her chest "...for that nugget of wisdom, Oprah."
I'm becoming far too familiar with her death glare.
Bella dismisses me and turns back to mom. "Yeah, Esme, he had a few. I don't remember their names or anything though."
Mom just nods back at her with this weird sympathetic expression; probably feeling guilty for bringing up her father.
"May I be excused?" Bella asks softly after an awkward beat.
"Of course, dear."
She stands and takes her plate to the kitchen, quickly jogging up the stairs to her room.
"Not a chance," mom replies without even looking up at me. "Finish your dinner, Edward."
~ X ~
An hour later I'm back in the safety of my own room.
It didn't take much digging online to find the address of the Quileute murder, and I'm busy packing my 'supplies' when I hear a knock.
I open the door to find Bella stood there tugging on the bottom of her grey T-shirt.
"Oh good. It's my delivery from 1-800-head-case." I deadpan.
She rolls her eyes in response, and I realize her timid exterior always quickly dissipates when I try to push her buttons. I swear, it's like flipping a switch.
"Can I help you with something?" I prod.
"Can I borrow your car tonight?"
The absurdity of her request coupled with my already giddy mood causes me to crack up.
Bella just watches on unamused.
"No. You can't. Is that it?" I ask bluntly.
I start to feel a little unnerved when she continues to just stare at me in silence.
It's a shame she's so fucking weird because she really is nice to look at.
"Yeah," Bella finally replies in defeat, fidgeting again. Her eyes flit to my backpack on the bed, before returning to my face. "Is that a 'no' because you're planning on going somewhere?"
I take a leaf out of her book and deflect with a question.
"Why? Are you?"
I'm so over this cryptic shit.
"Okay, this conversation is super fascinating, but lucky for me, I have an errand to run and you have some grand larceny to get underway." I start to close the door in her face, but she stops it with her palm.
"I didn't need your car for that, Edward, if that's what you're thinking," she insists.
"Are you sure?" I highly doubt it.
"Think about it. Why the fuck would I need a car to steal another car? There aren't two of me, so how would I drive yours back as well?"
Bella has a point there. It wouldn't make any sense unless she wanted me to tag along, which I've already told her is out of the question.
"In that case, you can just take the bike for your usual midnight getaway, can't you?"
"Fine." She huffs and stalks across the hall back to her own room, turning and stopping in the doorway. "You're gonna have to stop being so helpful all the time, y'know," she adds as she closes the door.
I hear the lock click.
~ X ~
Sweet Lord, I'm practically vibrating as I drive around the reservation like a creeper. I realize I probably should've taken a more thorough look at the map before I left, but I seriously figured the house surrounded by luminescent police tape wouldn't be all that easy to miss.
The properties here are smaller and spread a lot further apart than in town; set back from the roads and shrouded in darkness provided by the surrounding woods.
A few anxious circles around the block later, and I finally spot the right one.
I mentally fist pump the air, squinting as I drive by and note the expected lone police cruiser stationed in front of the dilapidated looking building.
I know I can't stop the car yet, because here is where shit could get tricky. Until crime scenes are released by authorities- particularly homicides- they are guarded 24/7 to minimize contamination. Lucky for me, this duty is usually dumped on inexperienced rookies who resent the task, and use it as an opportunity to catch up on sleep or reports.
I discretely park down the road, quickly grab my bag, and head into the surrounding woods. I need to find a way around the back of the house to avoid being seen by the cop out front. Trespassing on a murder scene practically screams 'I did it!', and I really don't have a viable excuse prepared. I doubt, "Oh it's okay, Officer, I'm just the local homicide enthusiast," would fly.
After muttering a stream of profanities at the noisy-ass foliage breaking under my tread, I finally reach the back porch of the house.
I know Jessica said the guy was dragged out into the woods, but there's no evidence of that here. If she's right, that can only mean he was dragged from the front of the house, which is more than disappointing.
Determined not to let this dampen my mood too much, I climb the stairs and pull out my gloves. They're these pretentious black, leather driving gloves that Alice bought me when I first got the Volvo. I'm sure she'd be mortified at how I've decided to utilize them, but at least I'm crime solving in style, right?
I tentatively reach for the handle of the back door, add a little pressure, and immediately feel like an idiot for being surprised when it's not conveniently unlocked. Preparation is essential; everyone knows that, so it's fucking ridiculous that I didn't account for this hurdle.
I tilt my head back, sigh, and bump 'Learn how to pick a lock' higher up my mental 'to do' list. This isn't going at all how I'd hoped, and I'm starting to get that all too familiar frustrated, sulky feeling.
There are windows in the house, of course, but I get the feeling they're gonna be creaky as hell on a piece of crap structure like this.
I continue to stand there like tool; just looking up at the pitch-black sky and pretending that rubbing my forehead actually helps my thought process.
When I roll my head back on my shoulder to the left my eyes widen. I notice there's what looks like a garage with another door on the side.
Thank you, baby Jesus!
A smile creeps across my face as I approach it. I attempt to be quiet and I'm probably going overboard with the creepy-crawly, tiptoeing shit, but you can never be too safe. I chuckle quietly to myself as I imagine I resemble the fucking Hamburglar right now.
I reach for the handle, and it's a little stiff as I add pressure again, but I say a silent 'Hallelujah' when the door gives way. It creaks a little as I push it open, but I feel safe again after waiting a beat.
My shoes are muddy from the soggy ground outside, so I take them off and place them on the plastic bag I packed for this very reason.
The room stinks of peppermint, and is pitch black; meaning I can't see shit even when my eyes attempt to adjust. I debate which poses the greater risk; the possibility of the cop seeing my flashlight through a window? Or tripping over everything and loudly announcing my presence to him anyway?
I decide it's the latter and turn on a small flashlight I pull from my bag. I'm careful to keep it pointed toward the ground- even though I'm certain from the lack of visibility in here that there are no windows. The space is cramped, and when I move the light around, illuminating a tire, I realize why.
There's a huge rusty truck.
A huge rusty, red truck.
Well, shit. I raise both eyebrows.
My first thought is that Bella is going to be bouncing off the fucking walls with the possibility of getting her beloved truck back. My second thought is a sort-of relief; a relief that I'm not the only one who'll be benefitting from this guy's death.
I don't feel guilty, and really, why should I? I didn't kill the poor bastard; I'm just indulging a hobby, and that doesn't change anything about his situation.
Moving on, Edward...
I roll my eyes at myself.
I sidestep around the truck to a door I can only assume adjoins to the house, but freeze with the flashlight in place at what I see.
There- right in front of the door- is a glorious set of bloody footprints. Boot treads, to be specific.
Bending down to get a closer look, I notice that there is something... off, about them. The prints aren't complete; they fade as they reach the roundness of the toe.
I pull a ruler from my bag of tricks and put it in place along the length of the prints to take my first official crime scene photograph. As the flash goes off I get an overwhelming rush of adrenaline.
Shit, we need more deviants around here.
I move the ruler along to mark the width of the prints and take another photo. There's only one set, and the feet are positioned exactly next to each other. My initial observation is that the killer was going to enter the garage, but changed his mind and went back inside the house. I make a note of this in the small notebook I packed and stand, pushing on my knees for leverage.
What changed your mind?
Trying to think, I turn and move the flashlight around the room, taking in what he would have seen. There's a tool rack on the opposite wall next to the door I came through, so maybe he was looking for a weapon? No, that wouldn't make sense, because the prints are made in blood, so the deed was already done.
Reminding myself that I can think about this stuff later, at my leisure later, I take a few more photos of the garage itself and open the door to the house.
It smells even stronger of peppermint, and is just as dark as it was in the garage, which doesn't make sense. There should be at least a small amount of light from the moon.
Unless the curtains are drawn, idiot!
Taking a chance, I move the flashlight to highlight the walls. This appears to be the kitchen and there are two windows to the right. The curtains are drawn on both and I can't believe my fucking luck!
I make a note that the murder must have occurred at night for this to be the case.
Emboldened that I'm safe from discovery, I switch the small flashlight for a larger one.
The brighter light allows me to see that the kitchen is small and basic, with dark wooden cabinets and plain chrome fixtures. A fridge hums in the corner and the display on the oven is flashing red digits. I idly wonder why the electric hasn't been shut off yet.
I'm careful to focus the light back on the floor before moving another inch- not for fear of being caught, but for fear of disrupting evidence. As expected the trail of footprints continues in here.
One set in, one set out.
Their reddish-brown color tells me they're dry, which I'm thankful for, since I don't have any of those booty things to cover my own prints if I stood in them accidently.
I take more pictures and tiptoe to the right kitchen counter underneath the window. Next to the sink I spot a crude wooden knife block on show, but none of the knives are unaccounted for.
The killer came prepared?
I might be jumping the gun here, but if I'm correct then this murder just got a shit-load more interesting. Bringing your own knife to the party suggests intent, and possible motives become a lot more complex than say, a heated argument just escalating out of control.
I silently acknowledge the fact I'm a completely morbid fuck for hoping I'm right.
Anxious to get to the 'good stuff', I follow the killer's trail into the living room. Other than the footprints, there doesn't appear to be anything relevant in this room. A couch, La-Z-Boy, a coffee table littered with sports magazines, TV, lamps, a worn rug.
Impatient, I decide to take these tedious photos on the way out, and round a corner into a small foyer.
To my left I see the front door, complete with a lovely bloody door handle.
I take a deep breath and steadily move the flashlight along the length of the door, down to the ground where another large reddish-brown streak disappears underneath it. The stain is almost as wide as the door itself.
I follow its trail with the flashlight all the way to the foot of a staircase. I note the foyer floor is hardwood, but the stairs are carpeted in a dark blue color. The hue of the carpet makes the stain less visible and it only appears on the edge of each step, but I figure this is consistent with a body being dragged down them.
I begrudgingly acknowledge the fact that if I were an actual cop or CSI, I'd be able to check for fingerprints on the door, or fibre evidence. There's really no point in doing that now, since I have no fucking database to run them through. I reluctantly settle for more photographs, and make my way carefully up the stairs.
When I reach the top, I see there aren't many doors to choose from, but it's blatantly obvious which one holds my prize inside anyway.
Passing door number one, I open lucky door number two. I Smile at the curtains being closed in here also, and point the flashlight at the ground again to lead my way. I follow my trusty blood smear with the light, around the edge of a small bed, crossing the threshold of the room to follow it physically.
I can almost feel the adrenaline pulsing through my veins.
At the end of my rainbow I find a giant congealed blood pool to the left of the bed. To be honest, I'm surprised that shit hasn't leaked through the ceiling. The bed is soaked too, with the top sheet missing. The killer probably tried to wrap the body in it, 'tried' being the operative word, because this has to be the sloppiest murder in recent history.
Shaking my head, I the shine light on the walls that reveal what I'm confident is medium-velocity blood spatter. Jesus, I know Alice said he was stabbed a bunch of times, but I thought she was exaggerating- she wasn't, because we're in serious double-digits here.
I slowly pivot on my heels, in awe as I take in the rest of the room. The sheer amount of spatter coating the walls- and even the curtains- screams that this was a crime of passion. The killer had some definite rage.
"Who the hell did you piss off, dude?" I whisper to the empty room.
When I step back the sound of the floorboards creaking under my feet pierces the silence, and I realize I've been here for too long. The longer I stay, the higher the risk of being caught.
I take far too many photos, before conceding that I can always come back again later if needed, and head back downstairs. I document the foyer and living room in a rush, and retrace my footsteps back through the kitchen to the garage.
I'm not sure why I get a sudden panicky feeling while I'm putting on my shoes. It's not like I've had any indication that I'm about the get caught, but I feel it nonetheless. I admonish myself and take a deep breath, pushing the handle to let myself out into the fresh air.
It's fucking raining and I have to traipse through the woods, but it doesn't dampen my mood.
~ X ~
Home at last and I can't wait to get out of these horrible damp clothes and begin analyzing my findings.
I punch in the alarm code and decide to take a detour through the kitchen on my way to my room, having worked up an appetite. I stop short in the wide kitchen doorway.
She's casually perched on the granite breakfast bar in the same faded, gray T-shirt as earlier. She has the sleeves rolled up, and I can make out the words 'Forks P.D.' printed across her modest chest now. Her bare legs are crossed underneath her, and she has six bowls placed at equal distance around her, forming a semi-circle.
I'd probably find all that smooth-looking skin on display to be really fucking appealing if it wasn't for the giant box of Fruit Loops she's holding.
My giant box of Fruit Loops.
I observe her silently for a second, watching curiously as she reaches in the box, grabs a handful, and begins placing them in the different bowls. Each bowl corresponds to a color, I realize.
"The fuck are you doing?" I ask quietly, but still startle her.
When she sees it's just me she visibly relaxes, and any pre-conceptions I had about being intimidating quickly vanish.
"I've got to eat those when you're finished putting your paws all over them." I try to morph my expression into something resembling a scowl as I spit out the words.
Bella smirks, the bitch actually smirks as she dips her arm, elbow-deep, into the box again and raises another handful to her lips, spreading her fingers as she presses her palm against her mouth.
She's making a show of it.
"Are you even listening?" I fume.
"What?" she asks, feigning innocence.
"That's the only thing I eat!"
"Yeah, I noticed," Bella rolls her eyes and tilts her head to the side, "maybe if you'd lend me your car I'd have something more productive to do with my time here, wouldn't I?"
Oh, that's just perfect.
I make the snap decision not to tell her about my little discovery earlier. If she wants that truck back she's gonna have to find it on her own- and I hope she gets fucking caught when she does.
"Are you dense? I've told you- under no circumstances are you driving my car, Bella."
"Fine," she says, swiftly parting the bowls aside with her arms, putting three at each side of her. She places her fingers around the edge of the counter and hops off it. I quickly turn my head to the side for fear that she subscribes to Jessica's 'No Panties' rule. As Bella's shirt falls to her knees I desperately remind myself that any sexual feelings towards my would-be sister are the last thing I need.
"What's wrong, Edward?" she says as she closes the distance between us, "is my being here ruining your perfect little existence?"
"It's not perfect," I retort automatically.
"No... of course not." Bella crosses her arms across her chest and takes a deep breathe. Her expression contorts from smugness into confusion, then anger. I'm fully aware that she's capricious, but this apparent mood swing is drastic, even for her.
Without another word, Bella narrows her eyes and moves briskly around me, darting up the stairs.
At a loss as to what the fuck just happened, I defeatedly grab one of the bowls- blue, I see- fill it with milk from the refrigerator and follow after her up the stairs.
I contemplate the wood of her closed door for a moment, bowl in hand, before realizing how stupid I'm being and entering my own room.
~ X ~
Your thoughts, theories and questions make me creepy smile, just like Edward ;D